If you’re not a car expert, buying a used car can be risky. The vehicle may have serious issues you can’t see. Dealers, like those of us at Henry Day Ford in West Valley City, Utah, put cars through a rigorous process to make sure they are running like new — but what if you are buying a car on your own?
Get an Inspection
The best thing you can do is to have a mechanic inspect the car before buying. Most sellers should agree to let you have the car inspected — and if they don’t, you probably don’t want to buy that car. An inspection helps you avoid serious problems that will cost you time and money soon after purchasing that new Ford.
Most mechanics in Utah and elsewhere in the United States offer pre-purchase inspections at their shops; some dealers offer them through their service desk. For a pre-purchase inspection, you bring the car to the mechanic’s location or one of your local dealers. Mechanics will put the car up on a lift to look for fluid leaks and confirm the car’s condition. They’ll verify that the necessary equipment is in place to keep your new Ford running smoothly.
If you can’t take the car to a mechanic, a mechanic can come to you. Residents in Utah and most other states have access to mobile inspection units. In a mobile inspection, a mechanic will come to your location and issue a vehicle condition report on the spot. While not as thorough as a mechanic inspection, a mobile inspection is still better than trying to find problems yourself.
Test-driving the car also helps you detect potential problems. Before taking off, look for damage to the exterior and see if there is any fluid on the ground underneath the car. Get hands-on with tires to check how much tread is left. Listen for weird engine sounds. Note if you smell anything funny while you’re driving. Drive on roads with hills and bumps to check suspension, and hop on the highway to see how the car accelerates.